Check Out A Penn State Hockey Game (Get It?)
Penn State students are blessed with a wide array of options when it comes to attending athletic events. The chances are that most Penn Staters had no idea what they were getting into as they walked into their first women’s volleyball match at Rec Hall. The electricity of the crowd and the success of the program seem to surprise many newcomers, and I was certainly no exception. The sports that are so often overlooked at many other schools always seem to have devoted fanbases here in Happy Valley.
Penn State hockey provides a sterling example of all that is good about Penn State athletics.
I must preface everything that’s about to come with a personal admission to the fact that, before going to my first Penn State hockey game, I didn’t even consider myself much of a hockey fan. I would watch the Stanley Cup Finals every now and then, but that was really the extent of my interest in the sport.
I left for home at the end of the spring semester, however, thinking that Penn State hockey was the most enjoyable sporting experience here, and knowing that I’d be waking up at whatever time I needed to in order to purchase season tickets (which sell out in a matter of minutes). So, what led to my sudden obsession?
The first thing I ever noticed when I walked into my first hockey game here was the beauty of Pegula Ice Arena. Pegula is sleek, modern, and provides an excellent viewing experience no matter where you’re seated. The concessions stands have everything that you’d want at a hockey game, and the delicious aroma of stadium food will have you salivating soon after you enter the doors. Even the bathrooms provide a pleasant experience for fans.
Also, the team is really good. In fact, the Nittany Lions are currently ranked No. 14 in the USCHO rankings, right in the mix with traditional powerhouses like Harvard and Minnesota, and even ahead of Michigan. Penn State hockey is this good, and before the 2012-2013 season, varsity hockey didn’t even exist in what many like to refer to as “Hockey Valley.” It’s truly amazing what the program has become in such little time.
This young Penn State squad looks to only be getting better, too, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this team continue climbing the rankings.
The “Roar Zone,” Penn State’s hockey student section, also provides quite the thrill. Steep bleachers line the student section’s corner of Pegula — a sight reminiscent of the old Boston Garden. The student section sits perched above one of the goals, creating a menacing wall of rowdy students for visiting goalies. In fact, the Roar Zone has an uncanny ability to get under the skin of opposing goalie. Chants like “It’s all your fault” rain down upon the man in net after Penn State scores, and I’ve seen more than one lose his cool during the course of a game.
Guy Gadowsky, Penn State’s head coach, equated the hockey games to “taking a section of [Beaver Stadium], shoving it into a box, and letting it go.” The Penn State faithful in Pegula pulled off a White Out against Michigan last year, and – in my opinion – it was the best crowd at any Penn State sporting event that year. The atmosphere, electric without fail, is impossible to describe until you see a game for yourself – much like the iconic Beaver Stadium atmosphere.
This article wouldn’t be a complete post without mentioning Guy Gadowsky’s importance to the team’s success. Gadowsky is clearly skilled as a coach, but he’s also incredibly interesting, engaging, and genuinely nice. What more could you ask for from a Penn State coach?
There’s even a Penn State superfan at every home game that often leads the Roar Zone in “We Are” chants and the like. His look is unrivaled, if you will.
Tickets are relatively cheap – between $5 and $20 – and can be picked up on the student ticket exchange. Penn State hockey games are too much fun for anyone to miss out on.